Eating For Longevity Hacks From The Longest-Living People On Earth

Planning to live beyond 100 years old? Then you do not have to live alone since one centenarian advised health and wellness website Well+Good. Instead, you can simply model your dietary and lifestyle habits after those living in Blue Zones.

For those who may not be familiar about them, the Blue Zones are five areas around the world that have the longest-living and healthiest populations. These are: 

  • Okinawa, Japan 
  • Sardinia, Italy 
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica 
  • Icaria, Greece 
  • Loma Linda, California

All the locations listed above have nine things in common and one of these is their eating habits, all in spite of being in completely different geographical locations and cultures. 

Though their long life owes mainly to where and how they live, some of their dietary methods for longevity can easily be applied to an American lifestyle. Originally shared in a seminar hosted by the Global Wellness Summit, journalist and Blue Zones expert Dan Buettner gives us some of his top nutrition hacks that will help you live like the longest-living people on Earth, all based on years of research:

Drinking Wine After 5 In The Afternoon 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this one seems tricky to pull off since it requires having meals with friends. Buettner said that there is plenty of evidence in Blue Zones suggesting that just two glasses of wine daily probably lowers your mortality, especially with friends and a meal. 

A few glasses of wine are good for at least a few potetntial reasons. Registered dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman told Well+Good that wine is rich in antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties and has been linked with a reduced risk of heart disease.

(A Mostly) Plant-Based Diet 

People living in the Blue Zones have been practicing a mostly plant-based diet for generations. According to Buettner, they are eating 90 to 100 percent plant-based food "beyond a shadow of a doubt." 

Plant-based diets have been shown to be heart-, gut- and brain-friendly. In addition, vegetables, grains and other plant-based foods have less carbon footprint compared to meat and dairy.

Lots Of Carbs

Buettner said that people in Blue Zones typically consume about 65 percent of their daily calories in carbohydrate form. This makes sense for one reason: It typically comes with lots of gut-filling fiber, in addition to vitamins and minerals that are needed by your body to function optimally. 

However, the carbs they consumed are not refined, processed carbs such as those found in white bread or in sugary treats, but those from grains, greens, nuts, beans and other natural sources. Beans, in particular, beat all other carb types. Buettner said that eating about a cup of the "longevity all-star food" adds an extra four years to your life expectancy.

Occasional Meat Eating

According to Buettner, meat is considered a celebratory food in the Blue Zones and is typically only eaten about five times per month. He added that those living in these communities typically stick to a portion "no bigger than the size of the deck of cards" -- equivalent to about 3 ounces. This makes sense from a scientific perspective: Meat may be loaded with protein, B vitamins and bioavailable iron but too much of it can lead to health issues such as cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer. Plus, higher meat intakes in men and women are tied to higher rates of cancer and all-cause mortality.

Sticking To Water, Coffee And Wine 

That means no soda and other sugary beverages. Buettner said that people living in Blue Zones drink six glasses of water a day, plus coffee in the morning and a glass of wine for dinner.

Modified Forms Of Intermittent Fasting 

That does not mean those living in Blue Zones are dieters. More accurately, they typically eat in ways that are similar to what is called intermittent fasting, per Buettner. According to him, "they breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper, and they tend to eat all their calories in an eight hour window, leaving 16 hours for their digestive systems to rest." This means they eat more of breakfast and less of dinner and do not eat late at night. (Intermittent fasting itself does have its share of potential longevity-related benefits.) Do note, however, that intermittent fasting is not for everyone, especially those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or have a history of eating disorders.

older man Here's something to look forward to with aging. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock